LAHORE - Mian Shahbaz Sharif knew it well that the path his elder brother Nawaz Sharif had adopted after his disqualification had ended his chances of becoming the prime minister. Till elections, he could not come out of the confusion over the ‘narrative’, which ultimately brought fall to ‘Takht-e-Lahore’.
Now, it is all over as far as the PML-N’s chances of forming governments in the Centre and Punjab are concerned. By August 16, the new prime minister and his government will be in place, followed by the governments in provinces.
It is time for Shahbaz to decide whether he really wants to play the role of an opposition leader or not in the assembly.
Shahbaz had no experience of leading an opposition movement. Assigning anybody the role of an opposition leader is something different from playing the role of an opposition leader against the government of an opponent.
Shahbaz had offered stiff opposition to the PPP government of Asif Ali Zardari, but as the chief minister of Punjab. Today, it is different as not only him but his party is also in the opposition, both in the Centre and in Punjab. The sooner he accepts this fact is better it is.
The narrative of Nawaz Sharif , irrespective of how strong and politically romantic it might be, would ultimately lead to a prison, if not to the gallows, and keep you away from power for long. You can't dream of power by taking head-on with two strongest institutions in the country.
This narrative led to the fall of ‘Takht-e-Lahore’, and until and unless Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s possible government in Punjab commits too many mistakes and blunders, the chances of the PML-N’s return to power look quite bleak.
Therefore, Shahbaz has to decide soon about his role in the opposition. And if he is not ready to play the leading role, it would be better if he nominates some other senior member as the leader of the opposition.
Nawaz and Shahbaz can now look towards Maryam and Hamza to carry their political and family legacy, but it has also provided an opportunity to Sharifs to reform the party and allow senior party leaders to lead the party. ‘Nazariati’ (ideological) Nawaz Sharif can transform the PML into a true ‘nazariati’ party, for which Shahbaz Sharif , rather Sharifs, has to come out of the Imran phobia.
Imran is the ultimate outcome of the failure of the PML-N and the PPP, and their political flaws. They should not monitor his political achievements and policies and benefit from the mistakes he commits.
The sooner Shahbaz recovers from the loss of Takht-e-Lahore the better will be for him. Though, the PML-N had not performed badly in provincial assembly elections, results could have been much different in favour of the PML-N had Nawaz resolved party's internal conflict.
His defensive posture has only added to further demoralisation in the party and also in the opposition camp. His decision to stay back from Islamabad protest for a very lame reason did not go well, either for himself, his jailed brother, or for his workers.
You can't play a role of an opposition leader with a defeated mindset and this is what he could learn from Imran Khan, said one opposition leader on condition of anonymity.
The PTI leader, after party's defeat in the Election 2013, did not sit back and maintained the pressure in the name of re-opening of four constituencies. He succeeded in uplifting the morale of the party.
Initially, Shahbaz thought that Takht could have been saved had his brother not taken a suicidal path and kept his tone soft towards the institutions like superior judiciary and the establishment. But, the events which unfolded after Nawaz's aggressive and, to a large extent abusive tone, sealed all the chances of the PML-N in the elections and retaining power at the Centre and in Punjab. BY: Mazhar Abbas